Only limited construction projects permissible under Michigan stay-at-home order

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As COVID-19 continues to spread, some states have doubled down on the enforcement of stay-at-home orders and have intensified restrictions on businesses. For example, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently provided guidance explaining that, under Michigan’s stay-at-home order, only limited construction projects are permissible.

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey sought guidance from Gov. Whitmer under Executive Order 2020-21 concerning the “permissibility of emergency construction activities and of work on construction projects that were already underway at the time the order was issued.”  According to Gov. Whitmer’s letter to Senator Shirkey, only limited forms of construction are permissible, “including construction to maintain and improve roads and bridges, telecommunications infrastructure, and public health infrastructure.” Other construction projects necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operations of a residence are also permissible. All non-emergency maintenance and improvements to residences is strictly prohibited. If the construction project does not meet any of the above criteria it cannot be started or progressed while the order is in effect. Workers for projects already underway are permitted only to carry out “minimum basic operations.” This type of work is limited to in-person tasks that are strictly necessary to preserve the current condition of the project, such as implementing security or weatherization measures.

The restrictions on construction remain applicable under Gov. Whitmer’s updated Executive Order 2020-42. The updated order reinforces the restrictions under Executive Order 2020-21, extends the order’s duration to April 30, and imposes more stringent limitations on in-person work, activities and interactions. Under the new order, employees that qualify as “critical infrastructure workers” has been further limited and include health care and public health, public safety, food and agriculture, energy, water and waste water, public works, communications, essential government operations, critical manufacturing, hazardous materials, financial services, chemical supply chains, and defense industrial base. In addition, with few exceptions, all businesses must determine which workers qualify as critical and inform such workers of that designation in writing.

The updated order continues through April 30, 2020, at 11:59 pm. At that time, Gov. Whitmer has stated she will evaluate the continuing need for the order and determine whether to maintain, intensify, or relax its restrictions.

McDonald Hopkins has a team of professionals dedicated to assisting businesses experiencing financial distress as result of the coronavirus. A list of articles focused on providing legal and business solutions to the impact of the coronavirus on your business can be found here.

If you have questions regarding the updated Michigan stay-at-home order or questions on if your business may continue to operate under the order, please contact the attorneys listed below

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